Operating a Successful COMMUNITY Shuttle Program

December 5, 2019

Proposed Motion

The Boston Region Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) votes to approve this work program.

Project Identification

Unified Planning Work Program (UPWP) Classification

Boston Region MPO Planning Studies and Technical Analyses

Project Number 13296


Boston Region MPO

Project Supervisors

Principal: Katie Stetner
Manager: Andrew Clark

Funding Source

MPO Planning and §5303 Contract #108217

Schedule and Budget

Schedule: Ten months after work commences

Budget: $50,000

Schedule and budget details are shown in Exhibits 1 and 2, respectively.

Relationship to MPO Goals

The Boston Region MPO elected to fund this study with its federally allocated metropolitan planning funds during federal fiscal year (FFY) 2020. The work completed through this study will address the following goal area(s) established in the MPO’s Long-Range Transportation Plan: capacity management and mobility, clean air and clean communities, transportation equity, economic vitality.



Stakeholders in the Boston region have expressed a desire to better understand how to operate shuttle and other nontraditional transit programs successfully. There is demand for both first- and last-mile and workforce transportation solutions, but there are relatively few examples of programs that have proven successful at both meeting that demand and maintaining fiscal sustainability. The goal of this study is to develop a guidebook for operating a successful shuttle program in the MPO region that will inform agencies and organizations who are interested in starting such a program. The guidebook will also provide a framework for MPO staff to use when responding to requests from agencies and organizations seeking analysis and planning assistance for shuttle programs.

MPO staff will review existing successful, sustainable, and well-regarded shuttle programs in the MPO region and elsewhere to understand their development, operations, and financing, and the factors behind their success. Based on the findings of this review, MPO staff will produce a guidebook for developing, operating, and maintaining a successful shuttle program in the MPO region.


The objectives of this study are as follows:

  1. To identify examples of successful shuttle programs in the Boston region and elsewhere, and to understand the factors that led to those programs’ success.
  2. To produce a guidebook to assist municipalities, transit agencies, and other organizations with developing, operating, and maintaining a successful shuttle program.

Work Description

The work will be completed according to the following tasks:

Task 1  Review Existing Shuttle Programs

MPO staff will identify and review existing shuttle programs in the Boston region and examine the factors that lead to the success of such programs. Success in this context can likely be defined in a number of ways. Common industry metrics include costs per rider and costs per service hour. Success can also be measured by progress towards certain goals, such as reducing environmental impacts or improving the equity and accessibility of the transportation network. During the review of shuttle programs, staff will explore how success is defined and measured for each program.


The factors that lead to a successful community shuttle program may include


MPO staff will interview staff or other officials involved with these programs to learn more about their successes and challenges. Staff will also identify and review examples of successful community shuttle programs outside of the Boston region, and evaluate whether there are factors to the success of those programs that may be applicable or replicable in the Boston region.

Staff will present the findings of this review to the MPO board and seek guidance as to which measures of success are most meaningful to the region. Such guidance would help narrow the focus of the guidebook.

Products of Task 1

Presentation to the MPO board

Task 2  Develop a Guidebook

Staff will produce a guidebook about best practices to inform agencies and organizations in the region that are interested in starting shuttle programs. The guidebook will cover areas that include defining program goals and evaluation metrics, operations, strategies for obtaining and maintaining financial support, and coordination with existing transit systems and the region’s transportation network as a whole. The guidebook will also highlight the planning and operational strategies that are most relevant to the Boston region.

Products of Task 2

Operating a Successful Shuttle Program Guidebook

Task 3  Present Findings to the Boston Region MPO

Staff will present the findings of the study and the guidebook to the Boston Region MPO board.

Products of Task 3

Presentation to the MPO board


Exhibit 1
Operating a Successful Community Shuttle Program

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Review existing shuttle programs
From Month 1, Week 1 to Month 6, Week 4.
Delivered by Month 6, Week 4.
Develop a guidebook
From Month 5, Week 1 to Month 9, Week 4.
Delivered by Month 9, Week 4.
Present findings to the Boston Region MPO
From Month 10, Week 1 to Month 10, Week 4.
Delivered by Month 10, Week 4.
A: Presentation to MPO
B: Final Guidebook
C: Presentation to MPO


Exhibit 2
Operating a Successful Community Shuttle Program

Direct Salary and Overhead


Person-Weeks Direct
M-1 P-5 P-2 Total
Review existing shuttle programs
0.8 0.2 6.0 7.0 $8,577 $8,758 $17,336
Develop a guidebook
2.2 2.8 3.0 8.0 $13,062 $13,337 $26,399
Present findings to the Boston Region MPO
0.8 0.2 1.1 2.1 $3,100 $3,165 $6,265
3.8 3.2 10.1 17.1 $24,739 $25,261 $50,000

Other Direct Costs



MPO Planning and §5303 Contract #108217